Michael Kennedy, Esquire
2022 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Second Circuit
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA–Michael Kennedy has been selected to receive the prestigious 2022 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Second Circuit. Chief Judge Debra Ann Livingston of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will present the award to Kennedy later this fall. Known as the “ethics guru” of Vermont, Kennedy has been bar counsel for the state’s Professional Responsibility Program since 2012.
As bar counsel, Kennedy advises attorneys on issues related to legal ethics and Vermont’s Rules of Professional Conduct. He also screens disciplinary complaints and administers the program for resolving complaints via nondisciplinary dispute resolution methods. He teaches continuing legal education seminars on legal ethics and professional responsibility, which often incorporate trivia quizzes. He produces a popular legal ethics quiz in blog format each week.
Kennedy began his career with the Professional Responsibility Program in 1998 as deputy disciplinary counsel. In that role, he was responsible for investigating and prosecuting violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. After two years, he was promoted to the role of disciplinary counsel, where his role expanded to include managing the attorney discipline office and providing legal support to the Professional Responsibility Board. Since becoming bar counsel, he has shifted his focus to educating both judges and lawyers on legal ethics, civility, and professional responsibility.
“He is greatly admired and respected by judges and lawyers in Vermont for his diplomatic and careful advice to lawyers facing difficult ethical problems,” writes Chief Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford of the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, who nominated Kennedy for the award. “I know from friends in the bar that he is their first call when questions arise about a lawyer’s duty to his or her client and their professional obligations.”
A former president of the Vermont Bar Association, Kennedy currently chairs the association’s Pro Bono Committee and previously served on its Governance Committee. He is also a member of the Vermont Commission on the Well-Being of the Legal Profession.
Before joining the Professional Responsibility Program, Kennedy served as assistant attorney general in Vermont’s Department of Health, where he prosecuted the state’s involuntary commitment petitions. From 1993 to 1998, he was a special assistant attorney general in Vermont’s Department of Corrections.
Kennedy earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont in 1989 and his law degree from the George Washington University Law School in 1993.